Celebrity Children’s Authors and the Publishers Who Love Them, Part 2

Posted August 16th, 2010

I must confess, I’m particularly annoyed by African American celebrities who jump into the children’s book fray because “there are no books for our children,” to which I respond, Huh? Spike Lee made such a claim in a year when I, alone, had five books published. So, I take it he is not only unaware of my contributions to the field over the last 30-plus years, but has also missed out on the substantial catalog of books by Angela Johnson, Pat and Fred McKissack, the Pinkney clan (Andrea, Gloria, Sandra), Tonya Bolden, Sharon Flake, Jerdine Nolen, Carole Boston Weatherford, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, Julius Lester, Walter Dean Myers, Rita Williams-Garcia, Eloise Greenfield, Virginia Hamilton, and so on, and so on. Then there are the host of award-winning illustrators who have brought black books to life: Tom Feelings, Kadir Nelson, George Ford, Eric Velasquez, R. Gregory Christie, Bryan Collier, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Javaka Steptoe, E.B. Lewis, Brian Pinkney, Myles C. Pinkney, and Caldecott winner Jerry Pinkney, and so on, and so on.

To be sure, there is room in the market for many more authors and illustrators of color. And one can certainly harp on the fact that too few black books make the featured wall in the children’s section of, say, Barnes and Noble—which is a rant for another day. But to say that there are no books featuring African American children means that these celebrities have failed to do their homework! Their loudly spoken assertions constitute a slap in the face for those of us African American authors and illustrators who have long toiled in the field. Shame on them!

3 Responses to “Celebrity Children’s Authors and the Publishers Who Love Them, Part 2”

  1. Lisa Moore Ramee says:

    You tell ’em, Nikki! Maybe this will trigger folks like Spike checking out some of these wonderful authors–like you! Hey, tried to facebook you, but there wasn’t a way to do that. Tried to snail mail you but the envelope came back. So now, tag you’re IT. Drop me an email so I know how to contact you. I don’t want you to think I took your words at SCBWI for granted.

  2. Here I go again Nikki. You are so right. And plenty of these authors you mention have been around a long, long time. Wow–I even illustrated Walter Dean Myers’ 1st or 2nd picture book when we were both kids. And Virginia Hamilton was an elegant young lady gracing the Macmillan offices from time to time back in those days. And Greg Christie, who I love like one of my own kids, is growing older as they are. Some folks just never learn.

  3. Melissa DeHaven says:

    I am a 43 year old woman who is currently enrolled in college at Texas Woman’s University. I am doing a study of authors for my library science class and finally learned about you. I am also white. I have read your book “Road to Paris” once and will again. I am reading your book of poetry/prose “Bronx Masquerade”. I love it so much that I am reading it again from beginning to end just to learn more about these characters you have created. I want you to know that I feel somewhat like Sheila. I now see how poetry can impact a student especially spec. ed. kids whom I will be teaching. Please contact me if possible because I would enjoy a conversation with you. Thanks, Melissa

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